Fianna Fáil Defence Spokesperson Jack Chambers TD has expressed concern about the continuing decrease in the number of Defence Forces personnel.

Figures recently provided to the Dublin West TD reveal that the numbers serving in the permanent Defence Forces have fallen yet again – with only 9,010 members recorded as of 31st May 2018. The equivalent figure for the same date in 2017 was 9,044.

Deputy Chambers said, “The Defence Forces has an approved establishment strength of 9,500.  However it has never come close to achieving that over the past five years.

“The real issue here of course is retention. Despite taking on over 2,000 recruits since the start of 2015 the numbers have continued to fall – indeed they are now down 270 since then.

“There is a significant contrast here with the Gardaí where since 2014 there have been 2,000 recruits resulting in a net increase of 600. Indeed I understand that some Defence Forces members have left to join the An Garda Siochána.

“Earlier this year it was revealed that Defence Forces HR conducted a survey of 167 personnel who paid to leave the Defence Forces early and it revealed that the vast majority are departing for better pay and conditions elsewhere.

“There really is a crisis in retention and it couldn’t be clearer than when people are paying to get out.”